Monday, May 18, 2009

My Midwest accent and the pop/soda debate

Hello. My name is Jess, I'm from Wisconsin and I allegedly "talk funny."

Why? Because I have a Midwest accent. Or so I'm told.

According to my friends who tease me about this,  I say weird things like "soda" versus "pop," "bubbler" versus "water fountain" and "Tyme machine" instead of "ATM." Personally, I don't think those words are out of the ordinary.

Or maybe my accent is just more subtle than others. I do know that my friends love to point out my exaggerated pronunciation of the letter "a" thus making the word "bag" come out as a multi-syllable word.  I'm now self-conscious about it.

But the most common terminology people correct me on is the whole "pop" versus "soda" debate, because that can be a dead ringer about what part of the country you're from.

When I lived in Minnesota, it was "pop" and people immediately pegged me as a Wisconsin-er because I said "soda." Sadly, after two years in Minnie, I did start saying "pop," but I broke that habit quickly.

A few weeks ago, co-workers and I even started debating and teasing each other about our preferred terminology for this heavenly, carbonated beverage.

I even saw a map on Google to help explain what different parts of the country call it.


So what do you say, pop or soda? And do you get teased for an "accent" as well?

Reader note: Thank you everyone for your hilarious comments on the key learnings. I'm glad everyone agrees that the phrase "fanny packs" are a dirty word (even if it's $445 by Prada) and that there are other X-Men/Wolverine fans. Who doesn't love a hot man with his shirt off...or more.

60 comments:

Hi! I'm Erin said...

Hmmmm, I think I say "pop". But since I don't really drink it or buy it, I rarely refer to it in the first place.

FYI: I've lived in Illinois my entire life (central and now northern) except for 4 years in southwest Ohio for college.

I've never been teased for having an accent.

Moonjava said...

I'm a pop girl, probably now and forever. I remember the first time I heard the term soda when I went off to college and met my future friends. I did a little doubletake since it's always been pop to me! :) One of my friends that says soda also has a distinctive accent since he's from the east...it draws out the "a" in water. A waitress here once asked him to repeat his order 3 times....finally good friends that we were finally took pity on him and told the waitress he wanted water. ;)

Lindsey said...

I say soda and am from Oregon where the majority of people say pop. When I was little I used to call it all "Coke" though.

Mandy said...

I've been told before that I have a southern accent and I'm from eastern ohio. I call it pop most of the time. I also say "yinz" which is pittsburgh for you all. =)

lbluca77 said...

That map is pretty accurate. We say soda in California. I think of "pop" more as something a kid would say.

I never until a few years ago reliazed when a friend pointed it out that Californians have an accent. We like to elongate our vowels. Yep like valley girls. Hiiii howw aaaare youuuu. It's all the sun, it kills our brain cells.

EP said...

Hmm, interesting. I've never heard of a bubbler or Tyme machine before. *shrugs*

I will say this, though. I will probably think you "talk funny" because you're from "up North" just as you will think the same of me because I'm from the South. It's amusing. (:

Angela said...

It's SODA for me. But "pop" in Pittsburgh. It irks me! I should have gone to school in Philadelphia, though, because on THAT side of the state it's "soda" as well!

K said...

I'm grew up in Chicago and moved to Texas almost two years ago.
As soon as I moved here I DEFINITELY got made fun of for my accent. I apparently say "boat" really funny. But the big one, of course, was POP.
Almost two years later, I refuse to call it coke, so every time I say pop, someone asks me where I'm from. I guess I'm holding on to a bit of Chicago :)

Blaez said...

its off for arkansas.. atleast in the part i grew up in.. we call(ed) it "sodi-pop" (soe dee pop)

being from the south i have an accent. most of my "a" sound like "ACK" like "accent" comes out "acksent" and most vowels sound like they have a ey/yu in them...

theyum = them
liyuk = like
ayun = an
baying = being
sowth = south
shitcawgow = chicago

ok i think you get it...

Caz said...

well in Australia I definitely am the one with the accent. But I don't even notice these days...

As for the pop/soda debate 90% of time I say Coke. and then proceed to explain what sort of coke (sprite, 7up, diet etc.) I want. Otherwise it's 'pop'. But Aussies say 'soft drink'.

As in "do we have any saawwft drink in the fridge?"

StartingOver@28 said...

ATM machines were Shazam maachines growing up in central Iowa and I said pop. Now with my move a bit further south I call it soda. I have been told I have an accent but over the years has faded and only reappears when I go home. Its words like bag and rag that sound like beg and reg. Most notably was barret (sp?). I said BAR-et but most people say ber-et.

howitstarts said...

I found this post amusing as someone who moved to WI as a little kid and was so confused by terms like "bubbler" and "budge (in line)" and "TYME machine". I am one of the weird folks who says "soda" for clear carbonated drinks and "pop" for dark ones. I guess I'm just indecisive and refuse to pick one :P

Ashley said...

I'm from Washington State, so I say "pop." I now live in California where they say "soda," but I'm in grad school with mostly non-natives Californians, so I don't get a lot of crap. I have never in my life heard Tyme Machine, though.

I have a very West Coast newscaster, non-accent accent, so I really never hear anything about it, because I haven't traveled much out of the country.

reinventingamy said...

I'm from MN and I talk to people all over the country everyday for my job and notice that if people say 'soda' I will sometimes purposely say 'pop' to see if they'll keep saying 'soda' or if they'll change to say 'pop'. It's more or less for my own amusement.

No one has ever said anything about my accent, but sometimes listening to certain coworkers- you can totally hear the norwegian/mn accent. "yahhh sure." lol

Miss Grace said...

Being from California, I sort of have the "TV" accent. I was a linguistics major in college, so we looked at regional accents a lot.

BTW no one out here says "pop." It's soda all the way.

Pam said...

Great post! My friend was JUST making fun of me for saying "hahckey" instead of "hockey". Apparently I make whiney As.

I grew up in IL, always lived in the Midwest, etc, but I refuse to say the word "pop". I've always, always said "soda" instead, or I just call the drink by its name, like Sprite or Diet Coke. I guess I'm a bit of an odd duck.

Haha bubbler and TYME machine...those took me awhile to get used to when I went first started at Marquette. You crazy Wisconsin kids :)

sara said...

Now I have never heard of bubbler or Tyme manchine. It's coke all the way for me. I'm from Texas and that's what most people call it. I do hear soda occasionally but never pop. Sometimes I am told I have a really southern accent.

Heidi Renée said...

I am from a solidly "pop" state, Michigan! I could never call it anything else.

When I moved to Ohio in middle school, some kids thought I had such an accent that they couldn't understand what I was saying. I maintain that I don't have an accent, per se. Just some Midwestern inflections. Some of my family's originally from Minnesota, so that's in the mix, too.

I have been asked before if I'm from Canada. Nope, just the mitten.

jenniferalaine said...

My friends in Boston have given me SO MUCH CRAP lately for the way I pronounce words with "a". They've been on my case about it, especially since my best friend's name is "Alex" and apparently I can't pronounce it right. Grrr.... But I gotta go with POP all the way! Haha

Jules said...

I say pop. But when I lived in Florida, everything was Coke.
"What kind of Coke do you want?"
"I'll have a Mt. Dew?"
It made no sense and drove me nuts!

Lil' Woman said...

I'm orginally from NEPA (northeastern PA...think The Office, yes I'm that close to Scranton) but anyways we say soda up there...always have, always will probably..but since living in Florida I have been poked at cause of my "accent"...

southerners say ya'll
but up in the parts of pa I'm from we say yous guys, weird but thats how I grew up! :)

Maxie said...

I say soda...always.

And you know I have a little bit of an accent...I can't hear it, but I know it's there.

High-heel gal said...

Growing up in Ohio, it was "pop." However, when I moved to North Carolina, people gave me funny looks upon referring to carbonated beverages this way, and therefore, I began saying "soda," which is also what is accepted in Philly. However, whenever I go back home to Ohio, I revert back to my "pop" ways ;)

Jersey said...

Ok, so I have good news and bad news.

Good news: I have a degree in Speech Pathology and wrote my thesis on accent modification and reduction, and your regional dialect (not an accent, accents come from having a different first language, dialacts are variations of the same first language) is a totally normal thing to have! Be proud of it! It makes you who you are!

Bad news: My college roommate (Queens) used to say 'pop' and I'd make fun of her endlessly for it. She's from Buffalo. So, yeah, want a soda?

Allison said...

I'm from Oregon and we don't *have* accents. ;-)

As far as the pop/soda, and I say soda, even though apparently people where I"m from call it pop. I just think "pop" sounds weird. So does soda, but less so. Actually, I rarely use either words. Mostly because I'm a diabetic so growing up I had to be pretty specific about what I wanted to drink, so I often asked for "a diet." Not a diet anything, just "a diet."

But I think I'd say "diet soda" not "diet pop" if pressed to pick one. I'm a rebel!

Jade said...

I am from WI too and I get teased all the time about how I say "bag" from IL people!!! I'm so glad theres someone else out there that says it with multiple syllables! I'm originally from Northern WI though and we totally say "pop" but I've since broken down and say soda. Pop is a noise not a drink. :)

alexa - cleveland's a plum said...

i'm a "pop" girl. i don't call it soda, just pop.

it's the cleveland in me!

laurwilk said...

I always say pop. I've very rarely heard someone in Iowa say 'soda'. I have heard soda pop though!

On more than one occassion in NYC, I have been served coffee when asking for pop.

I have somewhat of an accent as well. I spent my early years in Texas and get slightly southern from time to time. People always laugh when they first hear me talk and say, 'aww, you're from the country!' Apparently it's more noticeable than I think.

Jamie said...

Pop!

I can't ever tell people have an accent unless I really listen. If it's a super obvious accent then of course I'll notice but otherwise it goes over my head!

SA said...

Well I'm from/in South Carolina and around here it's Coke. All soda/pop is Coke here. It's a Southern thing I think. However, I usually just say soda.

RebeccaC said...

Grew up saying "Pop" in northern IL. Went to college in southern IN and switched to "Soda". I have cousins who call it "Sody" which freaks me out. Ultimately, as long as its Diet Coke, I don't care what you call it.

That said, since JiT is from Eastern Oh, and I'm from outside of Chicago, there are a few things we debate. Yesterday it was pronunciation of Lake Erie.

JiT: Lake Air-ee
Me: Lake Eeeeerrreeeee

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Growing up in St. Louis, we always said SODA. So, when I moved to Boston and they said Midwesterners used the term POP, I got offended. Cuz, I never used the word POP. Seeing your map makes me understand. That's so funny that the area around St. Louis is this little pocket in the Midwest using SODA. Too funny!

lifeintheleftlane said...

I usually just ask for it by name, but if I use the generic term I say soda. Being from the South, everyone calls it coke - even if it's a Sprite - and that is just strange.

Katie said...

I live in Georgia, and here it is always Coke. I think some southerners will occasionally say "soft drink" but never pop or soda.

The Modern Gal said...

You need some more Southern readers :)

Here in Tennessee it's Coke or soft drink or the specific name of the soft drink. You would be mocked endlessly for either 'soda' or 'pop.'

I've heard the term bubbler, but I've never known anyone who used it. Guess I do now!

Jaime @ Fast Times said...

I say soda. And bubbler. But I say ATM.

I get from a lot of my friends that I have a bit of a southern accent.

Um... I live in RI. I'm rather glad I don't have that Providence/Cranston/Boston sound that most people around here have. Granted, I do spend some hours every day talking to my boyfriend who lives in MS, but I also spend 8 hours a day on and off the phone with people from different places around the US because I work in a support center. I guess it's only natural to pick up traces of an accent when you hear them so often.

The Modern Gal said...

For what it's worth, I think soda sounds less weird than pop.

Anonymous said...

In Texas it is all Coke.....regardless of what you are drinking!

thatShortChick said...

I say SODA and have never understood the 'POP' thing. I think it's because I never grew up around anyone saying it, so if I happen to be out and hear someone say it (which is still rare), I will gawk feverishly.

I have never heard of 'tyme machine' nor 'the bubbler' but I think it's pretty damn cute. The bubbler sounds like something the British would say.

and I'm from Jersey and my accent only comes out when I'm on the phone with my friends back home. but I do get called out on the way I pronounce 'water' and 'coffee.' apparenly, I say them "weird."

Lucy said...

Being from TX I say Coke. Now Coke could mean an actual Coke or it could mean Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Mountain Dew, etc.

Also being from TX my accent has been commented on more than once. People ask me when I'm going to stop saying "y'all." Ummmmm, never.

butnoteveryday said...

I'm from northeast ohio...Pop is my go-to word...we're also very nasally...

Mom sounds like MAAAAAAM.

the real question is p-Ill-ow or p-Ell-ow?

Andhari said...

I totally find that map funny. Here we call it soda though, in Indonesia. And it's to all types of soda beside coke. Coke is only called coke. Weird.

Vanessa said...

I say "soda" (I'm originally from Iowa) but everyone here in Dallas calls it "Coke" then specifies what flavor. As in, "I'd like a Coke, Dr Pepper" Very strange, no?

Cheryl said...

Try being from Minnesota and going to school in Philadelphia. Go on, I dare you. I was relentlessly mocked for saying "bay-g" and "tay-g" I trained myself to go easy on the vowels. And to call it soda, which I still do to this day, despite my return to MN and then Chicago, land of "pop"

Meri said...

I'm Canadian and go to school in the US, so there's a few wording discrepancies that come up. The American profs and girls at school think "toque" (winter hat) is hilarious. On the phone I've been asked specifically if I'm Canadian and a few people have told me that I sound Canadian...

Generally people use "pop" where I'm from. I haven't heard "soda" all that much.

Rebecka said...

Around here, we say soda. I never noticed anyone from around here with an accent unless they're from the south.

bianca said...

I always said pop until I moved to California. I tried so hard to resist it, but now I say soda. But I do get teased for my accent all the time :)

Katelin said...

soda all the way. soda, soda, soda, haha.

erin - heart in ireland said...

I am alwaaaaays made fun of for my accents. My usual speaking is a mix of a few different accents - a minnesota/jersey/southern/british/irish mix. and there are some words i always say certain ways. but when i meet people for the first time they always questions where i'm from!

and it is totally soda - i'm from jersey!

EnglishDaffodil said...

These comments make me smile! So many cool differences in regional speech.

Re: pillow vs. pellow...I grew up in Illinois and was taught to say ILL-ih-noy, but many other natives say ELL-eh-noy. (And only non-Illinoisans pronounce the "s" at the end!) Same with milk/melk,

I now live in Texas, and have a friend who tells the best story about accents I've ever heard: Yankee girl (and to Texans, "yankee" means anybody from north of the Mason-Dixon) married a Texas boy and had two daughters. They named daughter #1 Kellie. His Texas relations were delighted...until daughter #2 arrived and was named Kaylee. In a Texas drawl, those two names sound identical! "Kay-uh-lie and Kay-uh-lee?!," moaned the family, "-Now, why'd you ever go and name those two girls the same thiiiiing?!!?!?!" :-)

wekeepsaying said...

i wish i had gotten here sooner and i wish i had time to read through the comments, but being from wisconsin, i just had to say something.

i was born and raised for about 18 years in wisconsin. i never said pop, always soda. and the long "a" in words like bag never really came out until last week, when my boyfriend repeated me after i asked him to hold the bag. i was a little offended and disappointed, i thought i had dropped most of my wisconsinite tendencies years ago.

and thank god! someone else knows what a bubbler is! i don't even know what the other name for it is (drinking fountain?), but everyone in new york looks at me like i'm a complete nutjob when i ask where the bubbler is! i've trained the bf to understand what it is and he can usually translate for me, but when i'm on my own, i have to bring a friggen water bottle with me so i don't have to look like an idiot.

Ronnica said...

I'm from Kansas, and I say "pop." I used to be militant about this, but after living 4 years in Oklahoma ("coke") and 4 years in NC (either "soda" or "coke"), I go with the flow and say "soda." I still call it "pop" in my head though.

One of the major reasons why I got my job was because I have NO accent.

Kate said...

When people make fun of me for what I say or how I say it, I just tell them I'm from New England where the whole country started, so the way I say it is the way to say it. It usually gets them to shut up, which is why I say it. :)

I say soda. I also used to pronounce Florida and orange like "Flahrida" and "ahrange" because my hometown is very close to RI. I pronounce the O's normally now. Also, I say curry and flurry like "cuhrry" and "fluhrry" as opposed to the Midwesterners who pronounce the "ur" more like an "er." I've also been known to use words and phrases like "grinder" and "package store." In fact, I did a whole post on New England vocab.

http://punchitin.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/a-new-england-vocab-lesson/

Lily said...

Oh I love this post! I grew up in Memphis, so the only thing I ever knew was "coke" no matter what kind of soda or pop you were talking about. Now I've been in Minne for almost 13 years, and I probably use soda more than anything now because I refuse to get pegged as that Minnesotan that says "pop." Sometimes, I still say "coke" just for fun. And I know what bubblers and Tyme machines are, but I think it's funny to hear people say that still.

iheart-orange said...

I say soda. To me, pop means popsicle. I'm from New England so I don't have an accent. Tyme machine? I've never heard that term used for the ATM before. That sounds like something you can go back in time with. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I live in Kansas, and I call it pop! So being from Kansas, I have a midwestern accent , which frankly I just found out today.

I was at the dentist when everyone was making fun of one of the patients because they said "Georgia is so hilly." Every word was normal except 'hilly' which had a southern twist to it. So, everyone talked about odd things they say (ex. one girl said pill like peel). Then I said 'I dont have any weird things I say.' Then they said to say 'what is it for?' I went ahead and did what I was told, and whoa I sounded really southern when I said for!

Anonymous said...

I live in Kansas, and I call it pop! So being from Kansas, I have a midwestern accent , which frankly I just found out today.

I was at the dentist when everyone was making fun of one of the patients because they said "Georgia is so hilly." Every word was normal except 'hilly' which had a southern twist to it. So, everyone talked about odd things they say (ex. one girl said pill like peel). Then I said 'I dont have any weird things I say.' Then they said to say 'what is it for?' I went ahead and did what I was told, and whoa I sounded really southern when I said for!

Anonymous said...

i'm from iowa and i have always said pop! i just think its weird to call it soda or coke. another thing that gets me is wash verses warsh. As in "I'm going to warsh the dishes." I don't know where that R came from, but i grew up saying it. thats the only word in my vocabulary that I can think of that has a sort of draw to it. anyone else say warsh?

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